Vashon Caught in Squalicum Storm

Dec 12, 2009
by Charlie Pieterick
Elias Weston shoots a jumper from the outside.
The Vashon Pirates boys’ basketball team suffered their first defeat in nearly a year, as they lost 49-45 to the defending 2A state champion Squalicum Storm last Saturday in Bellevue. Earlier in the week, a 4th quarter Pirate surge put away the visiting Fife Trojans, 58-43.

The Bellevue meeting between the reigning 1A and 2A champions was a highly anticipated event. Each team has been rated #1 in pre-season polls in their respective divisions. Fans across the state were eager to see how they might match up. A sizeable contingent of the Vashon faithful made the transoceanic trek to see for themselves.

Squalicum (from Bellingham) opened the game with a 6-0 burst that seemed to have caught the Pirates by surprise. But when a John Gage pass found Elias Weston streaking to the rim for 2 at 4:27, the Pirate machine seemed to spark to life. That ignited a 9-2 Pirate run, a run which was capped by Alex Wegner’s swat of a sure Storm lay in followed by his own 3 pointer at the other end. While the Storm managed to gather a 22-13 lead in the 2nd period, Vashon was able to nibble it back to 22-19 before the half.

Squalicum is a quick, skilled team that retains most of their core from last season’s championship team. Vashon, having lost 6 seniors from last year, is working on rebuilding around returning starters, 6’9” Stanford-bound Gage, and 6’7” junior Alex Wegner. The Pirates chased Squalicum throughout the 3rd period and into the fourth, finally catching them at 39-39 with 5:15 remaining. Wegner led the late charge, making 10 of his 16 points in the 4th quarter. Down by only one point with 17 seconds on the clock, the Pirates were forced to foul. Storm free throws down the stretch sealed their victory.

Pirates Points vs. Squalicum:
Elias Weston 4, Matt Amick 1, Gage 17, Quinn Holert 7, Wegner 16, Hamzah Griffin, Christian Hasson, Matt Kerns.

In discussing the classic against Squalicum, Pirate coach Andy Sears exclaimed, “What a great ballgame! I’m really proud of our guys. We were on the ropes a couple of times and we battled back.” He praised Squalicum as a “…good team. They’re very well coached.” He described them as similar to his own Pirates. “Very athletic. They attack the basket hard. They’re physical and tough.”

As for the loss, he states that he and his team will learn from this game. “(We will) focus less on the losing aspect. (We get) really good feedback from playing such a great team. We just want to get better.”

The Pirates will have a chance to put Saturday’s lessons to use this week as they prepare for Friday’s home game against the Cascade Christian Cougars, their main rival for the Nisqually League 1A/2B crown. Game time is 7:00PM at the VHS Gym. This is likely to be the casual Islander’s best chance this year to see the Pirates at home, in a supercharged post-season atmosphere!